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Graves’ Red Snapper DESCEND Act Passes U.S. House

October 2, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) released the following statement after his bill, the Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy through Novel Devices Act of 2019 (DESCEND Act), passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation expands red snapper fishing stocks and fishing opportunities by helping to improve the survivability of the estimated 500,000 fish caught out of season or over limits. This important management tool addresses the use of descending devices to release reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico at a depth sufficient for the fish to be able to recover from effects after changing water pressure levels (barotrauma). U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) is a cosponsor of this legislation.

“This is a major win for gulf anglers. Hunting and fishing are a part of life in Louisiana – it’s woven into the fabric of who we are. The Gulf of Mexico region is blessed with rich resources. It is one of the top recreational fishing destinations in the country and we produce up to one-third of the wild seafood harvest in the continental United States. Our legislation will help conserve the species, providing more opportunity to catch BIGGER red snapper and other reef fish,” Graves said. “For years now red snapper has been a major priority for commercial and recreational anglers, and yesterday’s win builds upon our previous efforts to allow states to manage the red snapper fishery. We will continue forcing law changes toward sensible management of this public resource. It should not take congressional action to force the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to advance meaningful conservation measures in the Gulf Coast, but their conflicted and flawed management efforts cannot be left alone. We’ve taken the steps necessary to increase advance policies, increase access and ensure sustainability of our Gulf reef fish when others haven’t. This step builds upon the successful state management of red snapper that we secured a few years ago and our legislation, the Modern Fish Act, that requires improved balance in recreational and commercial fish management and the use of improved fish data collected by the State of Louisiana to manage our fisheries.”

snapper passes

Click here or the picture above to watch Graves speak on the U.S. House floor before the legislation passed.

“Coastal economies like the ones Rep. Graves and I represent depend on healthy fisheries,” said Huffman. “The DESCEND Act is common-sense legislation that uses simple approaches already in place elsewhere, including the West Coast, and addresses the need for improving data on discards, all of which supports the sustainability of important fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.” 

The DESCEND Act passed out of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on March 11, 2020, and passed the U.S. House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife on January 14, 2020.

Graves’ Red Snapper Efforts:

On September 11, 2020, Graves joined colleagues in asking U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to fully equip the Gulf States with more science and independent data to improve management of this species so we don't lose ground on the success we've made in conservation efforts.

In April 2019, Graves released a statement following the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voting to allow state management of Recreational Red Snapper for Private Anglers. In 2018, Graves had introduced the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act, a bill designed to provide resource managers with more flexibility compared to the previous system. Through months of hard work and grassroots advocacy, the Modern Fish Act passed the House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Trump, setting the stage for Reef Fish Amendment 50 to keep the momentum going.

In December 2017, Graves advanced legislation through the House Natural Resources Committee that would give normal, everyday Americans who like to fish better and more sustainable access to saltwater fishing compared to the current, highly restrictive and outdated federal fisheries management model. His bipartisan bill – the “Regionally Empowered Decision-making for Snapper, Noting the Angling Public and the Preservation of an Exceptional Resource Act”, the “RED SNAPPER Act of 2017 - is a conservation-based approach that will allow states to work with federal fisheries managers to expand access for recreational fishing to 25 miles or to a depth of 150 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. Graves and Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced the bill earlier that year to provide a long term solution to management of red snapper for private recreational anglers in the Gulf.

Graves previously introduced H.R. 3094, “The Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act”, a bipartisan solution that highlights how states are in a position to immediately put into practice management approaches that correct federal missteps and use the best available science and data to conservatively manage this iconic Gulf fish.

In 2015, Graves secured an inclusion of an of an important red snapper management provision in the Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill. The provision marked substantive progress on the Graves-led effort in the House to improve management and increase recreational access to the Gulf red snapper fishery.